27.08.2020 16:27 Age: 184 days

WA Country Health Service warns against COVID complacency

The WA Country Health Service’s (WACHS) Principal Health Officer Dr Helen Van Gessel is warning country communities against COVID complacency.

Dr Van Gessel, an expert in infectious diseases, said country Western Australians only needed to look to Victoria and New Zealand to see just how easily a COVID wave can emerge and surge.

“We cannot underestimate the risk of COVID-19,” Dr Van Gessel said.

“While we may have eliminated the virus from our community, we have not eliminated the threat.

“If the situation in New Zealand has taught us anything, it’s that an outbreak can occur anywhere, at any time.”

According to Dr Van Gessel, while the suppression of the virus in Western Australia has afforded authorities the opportunity to test and refine plans, it was important country communities continued to take personal responsibility to protect themselves from COVID-19.

“The health and safety of country communities remains our top priority,” she said.

“But we need each individual to play their part too – you need to physically distance, you need to practice good personal hygiene, you need to stay at home if you’re sick and you need to get tested if you have flu like symptoms.”

Dr Van Gessel also reminded the public that WACHS continued to take precautions at all country hospitals and health services including placing limits on the number of people able to visit at any one time.

“We are asking visitors to our facilities to help us protect our patients and staff by doing some really simple things like signing a visitors log, answering some screening questions and ensuring physical distancing measures are adhered to at all times,” she said.

“Phone ahead before you visit if you have any concerns – we know these rules won’t work for everyone but it’s important to remember they’re in place to protect our patients and staff.

“The imperative is on all of us to work together to stay safe,” she said.